Jaroslav Halak “not frustrated” by his winless start at Rangers
Just over a month and five into his Rangers career, Jaro Halak has yet to win a game. But the 37-year-old veteran of 17 NHL seasons has hardly been overcome by frustration over his 0-4-1 outing.
Incredibly, he is the first Blueshirts goaltender to go without a win in at least his first five starts since Gilles Villemure went 0-3-3 from 1963-64 to 1967-68. Ken McAuley has the dubious distinction of going winless in his first 15 starts (0-14-1) for the 1943-44 wartime team that went 6-39-5.
“I’ve learned throughout my career that I can only control what I can control,” Halak, whose team has scored a total of five goals in his five starts, told The Post before the Blueshirts headed to in Seattle for Thursday’s game-opener. four-match western tour. “I can’t control how many we score, only how many we give up.
“I go into every game trying to give the team a chance to win and I think I’ve done that for the most part.”
There was a poor start against Columbus at the Garden on October 23rd in which he allowed one terrible goal and another marginal one in a 5-1 loss. Otherwise, however, Halak has a 2.77 GAA and a .905 save percentage.
“It’s a long season. I try to keep it simple and help guys out,” said Halak, who won his first three NHL starts after making his Montreal debut on Feb. 18, 2007. “Maybe if we scored a few more we’d have two or two three more wins, but I can’t worry about that.
“I just focus on my own game and I feel good. I’m not frustrated or worried. The wins will come.”
There was, however, an obvious moment of frustration — or perhaps anger — when Halak repeatedly smashed his stick against the post after Dominik Kubalik’s overtime goal gave Detroit a 3-2 victory at the Garden on November 6.
“That was right on the spot,” Halak said. “It was a questionable penalty and the way it ended, but it was just that game and that moment.”
Head coach Gerard Gallant said he’s not worried about the increased ice time he’s given his standout players, most notably Adam Fox and Mika Zibanejad.
“I don’t think it’s a problem,” Gallant said. “Sometimes I’d like to get more for the other guys, though [the top guys] they are playing good hockey and as soon as I sit them down a little, they look at me because they want to get on the ice.
“That’s the problem we have with these guys, they want to be on the ice all the time and they’ll rest the next day in practice. You definitely look at the game sheet sometimes and you see they’re playing a few too many minutes, but right now it’s all about winning.
“Soon we will reach the fourth point of the season. We definitely look at it all the time.”
The Blueshirts have staff on staff who constantly monitor the physical condition and fitness of their players and who interact with the coaches on a regular basis.
“The professionals don’t tell me [players] they’re still tired and looking at the data all the time,” Gallant said. “They say they’re fine.”
Vitali Kravtsov returned to the ice after missing the last two games with dental problems, joining the second-line setup of Artemi Panarin, Vincent Trocheck and Barclay Goodrow to form a four-man unit on Sunday.
“It looked great out there,” Gallant said. “He was flying and looked very healthy.”
The coach, however, would not commit to reinserting Kravtsov into the lineup Thursday.
“I haven’t made a decision,” he said before referring to Sunday’s 4-1 win over the Coyotes. “We just had a pretty strong game and I liked how the lines went after the first period.
“But we have two days to decide and we have a practice ready [in Seattle].”
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